Today in Black History – July 28 *
1802 – Alexandre Dumas is born Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie in
Villers-Cotterêts, Aisne, near Paris, France, the grandson
of the Marquis Antoine-Alexandre Davy de la Pailleterie.
While his grandfather serves the government of France as
General Commissaire in the Artillery in the colony of
Santo Domingo, (today’s Dominican Republic but at the time
a part of Haiti), he marries Marie-Céssette Dumas, a Black
slave. In 1762, she gives birth to a son, Thomas-Alexandre,
and she joins the ancestors soon thereafter. When the
Marquis and his young son return to Normandy, it is at a
time when slavery still exists, and the boy will suffer as
a result of being half Black. In 1786, Thomas-Alexandre
joins the French army, but to protect the aristocratic
family’s reputation, he enlists using his mother’s maiden
name. Following the Revolution in France, the Marquis loses
his estates but his mulatto son, Thomas-Alexandre Dumas,
distinguishes himself as a capable and daring soldier in
Napoleon Bonaparte’s army, rising through the ranks to
become a General by the age of 31. Thomas Alexandre Dumas
will marry Marie Labouret Dumas, a French woman and
Alexandre Dumas is born from this union. He will become an
acclaimed author of the French classics “The Three
Musketeers”, “The Count of Monte Cristo”, “The Man in the
Iron Mask”, “The Corsican Brothers,” “Twenty Years After,”
“The Vicomte de Bragelonne,” “The Regent’s Daughter,”
“Queen Margot,” “Marie Antoinette,” “The Black Tulip,”
“The Nutcracker,” and “La Dame de Montsoreau.” Despite his
success and aristocratic connections, his being of mixed-
blood will impact on him all of his life. In 1843, he will
write a short story that addresses some of the issues of
race and the effects of colonialism. Nevertheless, inbred
racist attitudes will impact his rightful position in
France’s history long after he joins the ancestors on
December 5, 1870. Buried in the place where he was born,
he will remain in the cemetery at Villers-Cotterêts until
November 30, 2002. Under orders of the French President,
Jacques Chirac, his body will be exhumed and in a
televised ceremony, his new coffin, draped in a blue-
velvet cloth and flanked by four men costumed as the
Musketeers: Athos, Porthos, Aramis and D’Artagnan, will
be transported in a solemn procession to the Panthéon of
Paris, the great mausoleum where French luminaries are
interred. In his speech, President Chirac will say: “With
you, we were D’Artagnan, Monte Cristo or Balsamo, riding
along the roads of France, touring battlefields, visiting
palaces and castles — with you, we dream.” In an
interview following the ceremony, President Chirac will
acknowledge the racism that had existed, saying that a
wrong is now righted with Alexandre Dumas enshrined
alongside fellow authors Victor Hugo and Voltaire.
1866 – Congress passes a law that African American regiments
should be part of the regular army, which results in the
organization of the 9th and 10th Cavalry.
1868 – The Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,
guaranteeing due process of law, is declared in effect.
which grants citizenship for African Americans and
provides for federal intervention when state governments
are accused of violating an individual’s constitutional
1903 – Maggie Lena Walker founds and becomes the first president
of the Saint Luke Penny Savings Bank in Richmond,
Virginia. She will be elected at age seventeen to office
in the Independent Order of St. Luke, a Black burial
society. On this date, she will found the Saint Luke
Penny Savings Bank and becomes the first female bank
president in America. St. Luke Penny Savings Bank is
still in operation today as the Consolidated Bank and
Trust Company, the nation’s oldest continuously existing
African American bank.
1914 – Woodrow Wilson Woolwine Strode is born in Los Angeles,
California. An athlete turned actor, Strode will become a
top-notch decathlete and a football star at UCLA, breaking
the color barrier at the same time as Kenney Washington.
He will meet his wife, an Hawaiian princess and stand-in
for the swim sequences for Hedy Lamarr. Woody will play
for the Cleveland Rams prior to their move to Los Angeles.
He will become part of Hollywood lore after meeting
director John Ford and becoming a part of the Ford
“family”, appearing in almost a dozen Ford westerns.
Strode will also play the powerful gladiator who does
battle with Kirk Douglas in “Spartacus.” He will also be
a professional wrestler, wrestling the likes of Gorgeous
George. Woody will live in a modest home overlooking
Glendora and the San Gabriel Valley, east of Los Angeles
about 25 miles. He will join the ancestors on December 31,
1915 – United States forces invade Haiti and the country becomes
a defacto protectorate. U.S. troops will remain there
1917 – Led by W.E.B. Dubois and James Weldon Johnson, over 10,000
African Americans march down Fifth Avenue in New York City
to the sound of muffled drums in silent protest of
lynchings and other racial indignities that are rampant in
the United States.
1949 – Vida Blue is born in Mansfield, Louisiana. He will become a
Major League Baseball left-handed starting pitcher. In his
17-year career, he will play for the Oakland Athletics,
San Francisco Giants, and Kansas City Royals. He will have
a 24-8 record in 1971, striking out 301 batters, and will
win both the Cy Young and American League MVP awards. He
will be the starting pitcher for the American League in
the 1971 All-Star Game, and for the National League in the
1978 All-Star Game. He will win 20 games in 1973 as he
leads the A’s to the World Championship. He will win 22
games in 1975. In 1978, he will win 18 games as he leads
the Giants to 83 wins as they battle all year for the
National League West Division which is won that year by
the Los Angeles Dodgers. His great year is rewarded as he
won the Sporting News National League Pitcher Of The Year.
He will also make a name and career after baseball for
himself in the San Francisco Bay Area by donating his time
to many charitable causes, mostly promoting baseball in
the inner city.
1977 – Roy Wilkins turns over NAACP leadership to Benjamin L Hooks.
1985 – Lou Brock is inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame at
Cooperstown, New York.
Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.